The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is extending the comment period for its proposed rule, Inclusive Competition and Market Integrity Under the Packers and Stockyards Act for an additional 45 days through January 17, 2023. The proposed rule published in the Federal Register Oct. 3, 2022, with comments originally due on or before Dec. 2, 2022. USDA is accepting comments at Regulations.gov. Information regarding the proposed rule and commenting process is available in a recorded webinar on the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) Fair and Competitive Markets webpage.
USDA is proposing these modernized regulations under the Packers and Stockyards (P&S) Act’s provisions prohibiting undue prejudice, unjust discrimination, and deception to provide for clearer, more effective standards to govern the modern marketplace.
The Inclusive Competition and Market Integrity proposed rule would revise regulations under the P&S Act by prohibiting certain prejudices and disadvantages against covered producers in the livestock, meat, and poultry markets. The regulations would identify retaliatory practices that interfere with lawful communications, assertion of rights, and participation in associations, among other protected activities. The regulations would also identify unlawfully deceptive practices that violate the P&S Act with respect to contract formation, contract performance, contract termination and contract refusal.
The purpose of the rule is to promote inclusive competition and market integrity in the livestock, meat, and poultry markets and would:
- Prohibit certain prejudices and disadvantages against covered producers. Specifically, the proposed rule seeks to protect “market vulnerable individuals” who are those at heightened risk of adverse, exclusionary treatment in the marketplace, which may include on the basis of their race, gender, sexual orientation, and religious affiliation.
- Prohibit retaliatory practices that interfere with lawful communications, assertion of rights, and associational participation, among other protected activities.
- Identify unlawfully deceptive practices that violate the P&S Act with respect to contract formation, contract performance, contract termination and contract refusal.
- Propose recordkeeping requirements to support evaluation of regulated entity compliance, including the ability to inspect relevant records, such as policies and procedures, staff training and producer information materials, data and testing, board of directors’ oversight materials, and other relevant materials.
USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. Under the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit usda.gov.